Macarons are ubiquitous. The rainbow-coloured morsels seem to be everywhere these days, displayed purposefully in bakery windows, arranged artfully on the covers of food magazines… but where did they come from? And what are they exactly?
Maybe we should start by answering a less-common question: What aren’t macarons? They’re NOT their coconut-y cousin, the macaroon. (Though their common mis-pronounciation would leave you to believe otherwise.) And they aren’t all the other wildly popular desserts like the cupcake, the donut and even the cronut whose fifteen minutes are well and truly over. These trendy treats have been overthrown by the delicate and diminutive Parisian dessert.
The macaron is much different from the macaroon (don’t let the similarity of their names fool you.) The sweet treat is comprised of two almond meringue discs made of egg whites, ground almonds and sugar, filled with a layer of buttercream, jam, or ganache filling. In short, it’s an adorable (and delectable) fancy little sandwich.
The history of the macaron can be traced back as early as the 8th Century, where they were produced in the Venetian monasteries. Their popularity increased in 1792 when two Carmelite nuns who would eventually become known as the ‘Macaron Sisters’, sought asylum in Nancy during the French Revolution. The duo baked and sold macarons (which were only one tier at the time) in order to cover their housing costs. It wasn’t until the 1830s that the cookies were served stacked, with the addition of jams, liqueurs and spices.
Fast forward to the 21st Century and these coveted confections show no sign of slowing down. Macarons have also become an overnight hit on the wedding circuit, becoming a popular wedding favour choice. Some brides and grooms are even opting to ditch the traditional wedding cake, and instead delighting their guests with towers of softly-hued macarons.
Needless to say, the macaron has come a long way since its humble beginning, and the attraction to the bite-sized dessert is easy to understand. They’re airy, light, sweet and available in a bounty of flavours that include peanut butter, London fog, pistachio, lemon, coffee and raspberry… to name a view! But what really stands out about the macaron is the texture, which is much more complex than your run-of-the-mill cookie. The crunchy outer shell is complimented by the rich soft center. Just one bite and you’ll be hooked, though don’t stop there. You’ll probably be tempted to devour an entire box… or maybe even a tower! (We won’t judge.)
If you’ve got a macaron addiction or you’re simply looking for a piece of Paris in good old Surrey, BC then we have the answer. Enter Sugar Patisserie! Owner and Pastry chef Caitlin Mayo’s melt-in-your-mouth creations also include specialty cakes, tortes and the dulce de leche eclairs, a customer favourite. Bon Appetit!